WOONSOCKET -- It was hard to tell if Mount St. Charles’ head coach Marek Wolny’s post-game words to his girls did the trick or not.
The seventh-seeded Mounties had just suffered a disappointing 1-0 double-overtime loss to No. 10 Tiverton at the lower campus field on Tuesday afternoon, but – after congratulating the Tigers and the officials with hand slaps and/or fist bumps for a job well done – Wolny huddled his troops and attempted some calming devices.
“Girls, that was the best game we’ve played all season, and then some,” he stated of the overall effort. “I’m proud of each and every one of you. We played very well. That girl just put in a great shot. There’s nothing to be upset about. I’m still very proud.”
The player to which he referred just happened to be senior forward Mackenzie Mello, who – with just 10 ticks under two minutes to play in the second OT session – took a deflection at near midfield down the left sideline, dribbled around two defenders and roped an approximate 22-yard, left-footed soft liner toward the net guarded by Mount senior Allison Gibbons.
The latter didn’t really leap for it, as she thought it would coast over the crossbar. Instead, Mello’s try sank into the upper right corner of the cage, allowing Tiverton to secure a bid to the upcoming quarterfinals.
It will face No. 2-ranked Pilgrim at the Pats’ home site at 3:30 p.m., Friday.
The attempt was also the visitors’ lone shot on goal in both extra periods, though they nevertheless improved to 5-3-7 overall.
The Mounties closed their campaign at 6-7-2.
“It was a great, a fantastic, game, and I’ve got no complaints at all,” Wolny stated later. “Our kids played their hearts out. It was ‘zip-zip’ until the last couple of minutes, but that was a beautiful shot (Mello) made. This one could’ve gone either way.
“Their defense played very well, especially in the overtimes,’ he continued. “The ‘D’ kept sagging into the box, and we were trying to stretch it by moving the ball outside, as they were stuffing the middle of the box with bodies. We wanted to open up the seams in the middle, but they stuck to their game plan, and kept packing the box.
“Like I said, this was easily the best game they’ve played all year. We did a good job of distribution, and I don’t think that was because this was a playoff game, but because the girls wanted to win so badly. We won a majority of the 50-50 balls, we didn’t allow them to turn (when the Tigers had possession) and we controlled most of the game.
“We just couldn’t find the back of the net; that happens sometimes.”
All told, the Mounties outshot Tiverton, 20-13, but Tigers’ sophomore Amber Silva earned 15 saves, some of them in stellar fashion. Gibbons mustered seven, as several tries sailed either over the goal mouth or wide.
After a scoreless initial stanza, MSC amped it up a notch in the second half. Just 7:39 into it, senior tri-captain Olivia Boyce accepted a soft pass and poked a high try at Silva, but she snagged it.
About three minutes after, Mello hustled down the left side and past a defender. As she chased down the ball in front of her, Gibbons came out of the net and blocked it on simultaneous touches, and both went down in a heap. Still, the carom off the collision traveled beyond the end line.
Soon after, senior right defender Theresa Pereira – who had played superlative defense – reinjured her knee, and Wolny immediately replaced her. Pereira nevertheless stood by her bench trying to fire up her teammates.
Not quite six minutes later, with 13:11 remaining, Tigers’ junior Eileen Kinnane received a feed deep on the right, spun around a defender while maintaining control and fired a liner off of freshman sweeper Emily D’Abrosca. Gibbons nevertheless snared the high ball with her hands.
It looked as if Mount senior Jillian Kern would register the first goal with 6:07 left in regulation. That’s when tri-captain Dorothea Moniz knocked a left-to-right feed toward the middle; Kern got her foot on it in front, but it deflected just past the right post.
That forced the initial OT period.
The Mounties peppered Silva with attempts over the final 3:43, but it seemed as if one would end it. With about 1:45 remaining, freshman midfielder Olivia Sangiovanni intercepted a pass 40 yards out and crushed a hard grounder through the defense at Silva. She hit her knees to make the terrific save, but it almost dribbled between them.
Then came the second OT, and – just 2:12 in – Moniz floated a shot toward the crossbar, but it coasted just over. Ninety-two seconds later, at 3:44, Moniz drilled a 24-yarder from the left at the goal, but Silva knocked it away. Sangiovanni pounced on the rebound, though that try bounced outside the left pole.
Mello notched the lone tally approximately five minutes later, causing the Tigers on the sideline to flood the field. The Mounties merely returned to their sideline for consolation.
“Theresa’s knee took a whack in our last (regular-season) game, and she tweaked it (Tuesday),” Wolny said. “This is pretty much the first game she’s ever come out of for more than a couple of minutes. She’s an integral part of our defense. She’s one of our best defenders out there.
“I thought we had some outstanding play from our defenders,” he added. “It wasn’t just Theresa, but freshman Emily D’Abrosca started sweeping for me just three games into the season, and she played great here. So did Olivia Boyce amd (junior) Deandra Duarte. It just wasn’t meant to be, but I still think we played our best soccer of the season.”